Caught Up With Curtis Ciszek

A break from slednecking. PHOTO: Mark Welsh

Caught Up With Curtis Ciszek

Curtis is a rare breed in a snowboarding world consumed with aerial acrobatics and rollerblade rail trickery. He rides with a powerful ebb and flow that simply follows the mountain, much like a wave. Curtis developed a style of his own by growing up surfing the Oregon coast. He's been on the scene (more in the backwoods, really) for a number of years chasing pow and filming with The People Crew, Volcom, and now Videograss. He radiates a 'good ol boy' persona that's chock full of jokes and antics that shatter any awkward silence. I got to spend some time with Curt Jr. at a lodge in Canada where he kept the vibe high, the Irish carbombs comin', and stomped pillow lines all day. Here's what he had to say.

Where did you grow up Curtis?
I grew up in Washington for about five years. Then we lived on a sailboat for three years. We sailed around quite a bit on the ‘pirate ship,’ a 120-foot top sailed scooter. Then we ended up getting in a head-on collision with a 600-foot oil tanker and totaled out the boat.

It was on Thanksgiving in the Delaware canal. The turkey went flying against the wall. It was crazy! Then we collected the insurance money and my parents bought a suburban and moved the family to Mammoth. That’s where I started snowboarding. My mom got breast cancer when I was 13 and she couldn’t live at that high elevation anymore. We wanted to live by mountains so we moved to Bend. Been there ever since.

A little vid from a Vancouver Island venture with the People Crew

So, three years at sea, Water World type shit. What was that like?
No, the most we were ever at ocean was like two weeks. We sailed across the Atlantic and that was crazy. Besides that we were at a different port every couple days or week.

So you’re saying you don’t have gills?
No, I’m not like Kevin Costner. I’m not a racist. Was he a racist? No, that was Mel Gibson.

Haha. What do you think about Charlie Sheen these days?
I think it’s awesome. It’s crazy. He’s lost his mind!


Do you ever think you’re losing your mind?
No. I feel straight as an arrow. But all these sweet pow days we’ve been having are making me feel bit loopy.

What’s one of your highlights of the season so far?
This four day heli trip in the Monashees. Just Austin [Smith] and I, obviously you and [Nick ] Hamilton, too. Yeah, riding waist deep pow and not really working. We got 30,000-feet of shredding in one day!

Sky high and tweakin'. PHOTO: Andy Wright

You’re pretty much in pow all season long. How often do you ride a resort?
I ride the resort [Mt. Bachelor] for the first couple months of the season before I start filming. Usually it’s pow in the beginning anyway [laughs]!

Who have you been filming with this year?
I’m filming with the Retrospect guys: Joe Carlino, Gary Milton and Hayden Rensch for their new project. It’s been awesome!

Who’s been throwing down the hammers?
Hammers? Definitely not me [laughs]. That kid Jake Kuzyk and Austin for sure.

Carlino does his best death cobra to tree. PHOTO: BAF

You’re into ‘neckin’. What’s the heaviest sled incident you’ve come up on this season?
Carlino is probably the loosest snowmobiler I know. He has a lot of blackouts where he just kind of pins it into tree wells and stuff. He got straight up and down against a tree this year. That was pretty impressive. Death cobra to tree.

How’s the BAF life these days?
It’s been a little slow lately, the content’s been lacking as usual, but it’s always fun, always some funny stuff on there. Everyone has a girlfriend now, it’s not as racy.

How about the infamous Donny? How’s he been?
I don’t know. You should call him (503-866-0984) and ask him what’s up.

Sent backcountry priority mail. PHOTO: Mark Welsh

Tell me about your camping endeavors this year?
Austin was like, ‘We’re gonna go camp in the snowmobile parking lot in Whistler. It’s gonna be awesome. We can fold the seats in my truck flat, it’s all good.’ So we get up there, it’s freezing-ass cold, just a snowmobile parking lot in the woods, and my sleeping bag is no where to be found. Some one took it out. I just put on all my outerwear covered my face and shivered. It got cold and a little broke back [laughs]. And at Baker. We couldn’t find the Volcom house. So I piled into Austin’s truck with him and his girlfriend. They weren’t stoked on me.

How was the GT memorial race this year?
Oh man. I ended up eating a bunch of drugs and losing my mind. That was uncool. I was having a good time for a while then it got serious.

How weird did it get?
Naw, not that weird. Jake [Price] won the Chinese-Canadian downhill. Ask him about that (503 551 61xx). He makes all the Volcom movies. So, send your ‘sponsor me videos’ to him.

I feel like I see a lot of riding and that just looks rigid. But when I watch you ride, everything just flows. Arms, legs–it’s all one smooth motion. What influenced your riding style?
I grew up surfing a bunch. I mean riding pow is exactly like surfing. It’s the same deal. It’s definitely fun to bring that surfy, pow style into snowboarding. Most people are trying to bring a skateboard influence into snowboarding. Mine’s more surfing influenced for sure though.

You have a pretty comical group of friends, you guys are always stoked and laughing. Where does that all stem from?
We’re all fortunate to have a good group of friends. It’s awesome. There’s never a dull moment. Someone’s always laughing or doing something stupid.

Deep in snow and deep in Canada. PHOTO: Scott Serfas

You have a very carefree approach and attitude towards life, too. Everything is always laughter and fun. What keeps it going?
I try to be as laid back and stress-free as possible. I can stress and freak out just like anybody else. There are highs and lows, but I try to keep it right across the middle, stay positive and enjoy what I’m doing. I’m very fortunate to have been given the opportunities that I have. I’m surrounded by a really good group of friends-that helps.

Then what’s next for you? Sailing off into the sunset?
I’m ditching my truck. Throwing the sled on Austin’s truck and filming the rest of the year for the movie.